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Try Thai Review

Jonathan Schofield thinks the Faulkner Street restaurant lacks finesse

Written by . Published on September 27th 2011.

Try Thai Review

THE name Try Thai should come with an exclamation mark as a command, or a question mark as a suggestion. With neither the name feels empty, incomplete, hanging around for someone to finish it off. It's neutral.

It did the job, it just didn't delight, there was little of the light and refined character of the best Thai meals I've had.

Neutral doesn't describe the decor, which is gold and rust red with big areas of patterned glass. It's a vivid look but on the tasteful side of vivid and comes complete with elaborate wood carvings and a charming logo of a dancing, prancing Thai girl.

Scenes And Food 033

Not so tasteful is the TV screen in the restaurant which flashes up pictures of food, drinks and various offers and deals. It's a distraction. I don't want filmed on-selling while I'm eating. Especially when every now and the vaguely worrying words 'Why don't you enter yourself?' appear.

Made my eyes water.

The food didn't. It didn't do much. It was all right but I'm finding it hard to recall and I visited less than a week ago.

Starters of coriander beef (main picture above), spring rolls, vegetable tempura and Thai crispy calamari were the best of the meal. The vegetable tempura was wonderfully light with the veg beneath al dente, the calamari were good too with a spicy dip. The coriander beef was delightful in a sticky yet crispy case. None of it had the wow factor though.

Scenes And Food 043

Mains of beef yellow curry, beef garlic and ginger, crispy belly pork in a red wine and brandy sauce and a chicken fried rice for the youngest diner were mostly dull again. The crispy belly pork was the star, as rich and appealing as the colouring scheme around the room, with a spiced up snap and bite that meant the whole portion was eaten, unlike with the rest of the food. All the rice was perfectly cooked, the jasmine rice was particularly lovely.

But generally the food seemed thrown out of the kitchen rather then caressed through to the dining room. 

Part of the problem was the beef. It was of the lowest grade, frying steak standard, and had that coarse almost dirty flavour reaching out through the other ingredients. It was only drowned out in the good coriander beef starter.

I usually follow fellow Confidential writer Ruth Allan's advice over this and stick with seafood and fish in Thai restaurants. These are ingredients which demand more delicate handling allowing the cuisine to speak. Next time I'll revert.

Scenes And Food 047

A shared pudding of a banana fritter with a lush ice cream provided a pleasant ending. Clunky yet rewarding.

We'd arrived early evening and gone for the set menus, £11.95 for two courses or £14.95 for three. If we hadn't done so, starters would have cost between £5.25 and £6.50, and mains around £10 to £13, more for some of the fish dishes.

The set menus were maybe a mistake. They restricted choice. Items on the a la carte menu such as aubergines with chilli and holy basil or clear stock soup with fishballs sound better than much of the stir fry crowd pleasers on the set menu - the speciality drinks such as rainbow bean mix sound fun too. Indeed Try Thai has a bar on the ground floor which may be worth a review in its own right.

Those considerations aside, I found the food matches the name not the decor. Like the strangely incomplete phrase of Try Thai, it's neutral. I realise this contradicts several of the Confidential readers who've written purple prose in praise of the place. 

Try Thai is no better or worse than the mass of Thai restaurants that have arisen across the continent of Europe. It did the job, it just didn't delight, there was little of the light and refined character of the best Thai meals I've had.

Try Thai. I have now. But Try Thai again?

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL. £1000 to the reader who can prove otherwise, and dismissal for the staff member who wrote a review scored out of twenty on a freebie from the restaurant.

Try Thai
52-54 Faulkner Street
City, M14FH, 0161 834 9025

Rating: 13/20
Food: 7/10
Service: 3/5
Atmosphere: 3/5

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away.

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15 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

the Whalley RangerSeptember 27th 2011.

This place is a serious contender on my all-time-great-places-to-have-lunch-list.

Real ingredients, no MSG, varied spice levels for the untrained. Best tom kha gai in town.


AnonymousSeptember 27th 2011.

I used be go to Try Thai regularly as I found the food as good if not better than Chaophraya, but at half the price. The last two times I've been the food has been terrible and a Schofield says "thrown out of the kitchen", which has been a massive disappointment. I've not been for a while now and won't be going again until I hear more positive things from reviews or friends

NorthernGeezerSeptember 27th 2011.

I've always thought of this place as one of the top Thai restaurants, but I agree with the comment on the quality of the beef.
The chicken is usually good, firm and moist, as if its been poached first.
Leaving the other dishes to one side, the curry's are usually outstanding and the Pad Thai is usually very good too.
Did Jitrada in Sale last Saturday.....................outstanding, and Tampopo in Albert Square usually serves up excellent quality, full of flavour.

movementSeptember 27th 2011.

I'm sure it used to be cheaper. If it's gone off the boil, that leaves us with what in the city centre, Thai-wise?

Jo NightingaleSeptember 27th 2011.

I've always found TT excellent for tasty, unusual dishes. Maybe the vegetarian food is better than the meat but in this price-bracket I'd rate it among the best in Chinatown, and certainly the best Thai in the city.

knowallOctober 12th 2011.

Our favourite for lunch,good service,lovely clean airy restaurant,good portions,excellent food at a reasonable price.Really what more could you ask for?

AnonymousNovember 4th 2011.

Schofield must have went on a off night. I usually order beef penang curry and the beef usually tastes great, wih good texture. Surprised with the mediocre score.
TT might not be the best restaurant in town, but I'd say its the best place that serves authentic Thai food in town!
If you haven't been before, I suggest visiting for their great curries and pad thai.

AnonymousNovember 18th 2011.

Try Thai is special, and great value for money than most plush overrated places!

AnonymousNovember 26th 2011.

I love try thai! they have the best pad thai out of Thailand!!!

Mark BoardmanJanuary 24th 2012.

my mate spent a year in thialand. took me here for my first ever thia meal. I loved it. he said it was as good as most thia food in thialand. that was good enough for me. i always have the chicken tho....

KnowitallFebruary 9th 2012.

Try Thai is the best Thai restaurant in Manchester! -my opinion!

KnowitallFebruary 9th 2012.


Sl TanJune 1st 2012.

I love South East Asian cuisine and I can confidently say that Try Thai is the best Thai restaurant in Manchester. It offers good value for money (especially their lunchtime sets - though they've increased the price recently) with reasonably authentic Thai food. Staff are friendly and the place itself has a nice and comfortable ambience.

I like Chaophraya but it is a tad too expensive and somewhat of a rip-off. If you are looking for satisfying Thai food in Manchester that won't burn a hole in your pocket but at the same time isn't your greasy takeaway crap, then Try Thai is the way to go.

Chloe CampbellMarch 7th 2013.

I don't think this fella knows what he's talking about. Lol @ reviewing the grammar in the name. Haha!

TrickyMarch 7th 2013.

I don't think anybody who puts Lol knows anything about anything. Chloe let's hope you've not left high school yet. Lol indeed.

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